If nothing else, Elena’s Specialty Cakes’ facade will catch one’s eye.
The bakery, which opened in the northern-most tip of the Short North in early March, stands out amid the strip of brick storefronts because of its bright pink wooden trim and vibrant green door.
Step inside and the exterior color scheme reappears. The walls are the same pink, with green and white accents. Natural light from the large window fills the cozy space.
“I tried to make it welcoming,” said Elena Birukow, the store’s co-owner and lone baker.
Actually, there’s a better reason for the shop’s palette.
“Well, I sort of just like these colors,” she said, laughing.
Birukow came to the United States from Russia 10 years ago and moved to Columbus soon after.
Her cake-making service in Columbus initially began as making them for friends, she said.
Eventually it grew to a point where Birukow, after encouragement from her daughter, Svetlana Stolz, opted to open the storefront at 1247 N. High St. Stolz helps run the financial side of the business.
There is not a menu hanging behind the counter, or, for that matter, anywhere in the store. That’s because, at this point, what’s for sale at Elena’s Specialty Cakes can change anytime. A concrete menu has yet to materialize due to a couple of reasons.
For one, she wants to cater to her customers’ cravings. She said if she notices a particular item generating rave reviews, she’ll bake it more frequently.
The second reason is because Birukow has been baking for more than 30 years, making her repertoire large. While still living in her native Russia, she spent more than 20 years baking in a variety of restaurants. Since moving to the United States 10 years ago, she’s worked at multiple supermarkets, such as The Andersons, expanding her list of recipes even further.
She said she can bake nearly anything, making it hard to choose what should be on the menu.
In the display case on the day The Lantern visited, Elena’s Specialty Cakes had Russian honey cake, multiple flavors of Italian cannolis and French chocolate éclairs. It’s difficult to pinpoint a specialty for the bakery.
“I adapt all my experiences and try to create my own style and taste,” Birukow said.
She described her personal baking style as fluffy and light, with a focus on using high-quality natural ingredients to make the individual flavors in each creation stand out.
“When you eat at my bakery, it won’t feel too heavy in your stomach,” Birukow said. “You could eat it before dinner and not be too full.”
Despite the eye-popping display of bakery items kept in-store, one of the store’s largest offerings are just what its name suggests: specialty cakes.
Birukow estimated that she has been baking elaborate cakes for at least 20 years.
Photographs of some of her finest creations, ranging from a first-birthday cake to a multiple-layer wedding cake, are displayed on the left-side wall.
Birukow said every part of the cakes are edible, from the bottom layer to the top ornate layer.
Betsy Pandora, the executive director of the Short North Alliance, praised the addition of Birukow’s store. In an email, Pandora noted how its small, locally owned flavor fits with “the majority” of the district’s more than 350 businesses.
Of those, Elena’s Specialty Cakes joins Piece of Cake and Laughlin’s Bakery as the third bakery in the district, Pandora said.
“Elena’s seems like a perfect fit for the Short North Arts District,” she said.
The reciprocal is also true. Birukow said the Short North is an ideal place for her, noting how living in Moscow sparked her love for the urban atmosphere.
Birukow has found a home for her specialty pastries and cakes, behind her bright green door.